Day 2 of the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour Campione Main Event has come to an end after six 75-minute levels were completed inside the vast Casino di Campione. At the start of play 325 players took their seats, each with high hopes of becoming an EPT champion, but that dream is over for all but 99 of them.
The dreams of stardom are well and truly alive for Balazs Botand as he is the overnight chip leader having bagged up an impressive 646,000 chips by the time the tournament director called time on proceedings. Botand flew under the proverbial radar for the majority of the day and when his monster stack was brought to our attention we attempted to investigate how he built it.
"Were you involved in many big hands to build your stack?" we asked before adding, "We guess you're running really hot, no?"
"Actually no," came the reply before two of his opponents informed us, almost at the same time, "He's just playing really well!"
"Yeah. I'm playing really well," confirmed the PokerStars hoody-sporting Hungarian.
Mr Botand's stack contains almost 150,000 more chips than his nearest rival, the dangerous Ronny Kaiser. The current EPT Tallin champion has been tearing up the high stakes Pot Limit Omaha cash games on PokerStars over the past few weeks and his terrific form seems to have followed him into the live arena as he ended the day with 506,500 chips. Like Botand, Kaiser was not drawing much attention to himself until he was involved in a massive pot towards the latter stages of the day when his held against and to send two players to the rail and boost his stack past the 500,000 chip barrier. Kaiser is a very talented player and now that he has ample chips he is going to be a real problem for whoever he is seated with on Day 3.
After almost eight full seasons of the EPT and with no double winner it is almost impossible not to mention the possibility of someone becoming the first player to win two EPT main events. Almost without fail, at least one former champion makes a deep run and Campione is no different because there are no fewer than eight players who have lifted that coveted trophy.
Along with the aforementioned Kaiser the following players, in chip count order, will no doubt be referred to as the "potential first double EPT winner" on at least one occasion on Day 3. Keep an eye out for David Vamplew (412,900), Roberto Romanello (331,000), Liv Boeree (300,900), Nicolas Chouity (257,000), Rupert Elder (161,600), Martin Finger (122,400) and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier (113,500). Imagine if all eight made it through to the final table!
A special mention has to go to Team PokerStars' Liv Boeree who looked to be down and out within the first couple of levels of play. After a clash with fellow Brit Vamplew, whom she was sat next to all day, she was left with just 8,000 chips with blinds at 500/1,000/100 but she staged an epic comeback and when she sits down tomorrow she will do so armed with almost exactly 100 big blinds! Amazing stuff.
Play resumes at 14:00 CET on Thursday and will continue until only 24 players remain, regardless of how long that takes. This means that by the time play is paused for the final time the money bubble will have burst and we will be one step closer to crowning the EPT Campione champion.
You can follow all of the action over on the Live Reporting pages and we will have a full recap of the action for you shortly after play ends.